France

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Generalities and basic facts

French Republic is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe,[note 12] with several overseas regions and territories. Metropolitan France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is one of three countries (Morocco, Spain) to have both Atlantic and Mediterranean coastlines. From its shape, it is often referred to in French as l’Hexagone ("The Hexagon"). It is a member of the European Union.

France is the largest country in Western Europe and the third-largest in Europe as a whole. It possesses the 2nd-largest exclusive economic zone in the world. France has been a major power with strong cultural, economic, military, and political influence in Europe and around the world. France has its main ideals expressed in the 18th-century Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, France built the second-largest colonial empire of the time, ruling large portions of first North America and India and then Northwest and Central Africa; Madagascar; Indochina and Kouang-Tchéou-Wan; and many Caribbean and Pacific Islands.

It is a developed country possessing the world's 9th-largest economy by purchasing power parity and Europe's 4th largest. In terms of total household wealth, France is the wealthiest nation in Europe and 4th in the world. French citizens enjoy a high standard of living, high public education level, and one of the world's longest life expectancies.France has been listed as the world's "best overall health care" provider by the World Health Organization. It is the most-visited country in the world, receiving 83 million foreign tourists annually

France remains the world's number one tourist destination, and it's not hard to understand why. France has it all - or more or less. It has tourist sights for all tastes; it has some of the greatest beaches in Europe, as well as the highest mountains and the finest historic monuments, the most beautiful cities, the most idyllic countryside, the most magnificent castles, the finest rivers, and plenty more, not to mention some of the best restaurants and the finest wines and more hotels than any other country in Europe.

France has something for everyone, which is one of the reasons why it remains the world's number one tourist destination. It has magnificent holiday opportunities for everything from a short weekend city break, in places such as Paris, Nice or Bordeaux, to a relaxed family holiday in a gite in the countryside, a week or two's relaxation by the seaside, or an energetic break hiking, climbing, kayaking or cycling in France's great outdoors.

France has the world's 6th-largest military budget, the 3rd-largest deployable force in NATO, and the 29th-largest military in the world. France possesses the 3rd-largest stockpile of nuclear weapons in the world[15] and the world's 2nd-largest diplomatic corps behind the US. France is a founding member of the United Nations, one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, and a member of the Francophonie, the G8, G20, NATO, OECD, WTO, and the Latin Union. It is also a founding and leading member state of the European Union and the largest EU state by area.[17] In 2013, France was listed 20th on the Human Development Index and, in 2012, 22nd on the Corruption Perceptions Index.

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